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Writing a Will

It's easy to put off making a Will but it's an important step in making sure the people and causes you care about are looked after.

It can be hard to think about writing a Will. Often it will be emotionally challenging and loved ones may find it difficult to talk about.  However, it can be comforting to know that writing a Will is one way of planning for the future and making sure that your loved ones are provided for. 

And with our free and discounted Will writing services, it doesn't have to cost a penny!

What is a Will?

A Will is a legally binding document which enables you to instruct who gets your property, possessions and money after your death. This is known as your estate.

Why is it important for me to write a Will?

Without a Will, intestacy rules will apply and will determine who benefits from your estate. As a result, the people or causes that are important to you may not receive anything.

Writing a Will makes sure you get to decide what happens with your assets after you die. This also prevents a difficult situation in which your loved ones have to make a decision about how to divide your assets among themselves.

    It's important to note that the law doesn't automatically recognise cohabitants (either a friend or partner you're living with) as having the same rights as family or married spouses - no matter how long you’ve lived together. 

    If you want to leave something to a partner, to whom you’re not married, or to a close friend you generally need to include instructions to that effect in your Will.

    Writing a Will isn't just about deciding who is going to inherit your estate, it's also an opportunity to leave instructions about your funeral, burial or cremation. It may not be easy to think about this subject, but leaving clear instructions in your Will means your relatives and friends won't need to make that decision after you die.

    You may also want to consider donating your organs or furthering research by leaving instructions about gathering tumour samples that will be used to help researchers understand brain tumour development.

    Frequently asked questions

    How much does it cost to write a Will?

    Simple, single Wills drawn up by a solicitor can start at £150 and go up to several hundred pounds, depending on which part of the country you’re in.

    If you and your spouse or partner want essentially the same Wills (called mirror Wills), the costs are likely to be less if you’ve them written at the same time.

    If you want a more specialist Will (e.g. if you’re also setting up discretionary trusts), it will cost more – perhaps a minimum of £500 up to £1,000.

    We're pleased to offer free and discounted Will writing services to our supporters.

    How do I update my Will?

    Even if you already have a Will, you may want to review it, if it was made some time ago or if your circumstances have changed. For example, if you got married or if a grandchild has been born since you wrote your Will, it may be inadequate.

    You can make amendments using a document called a codicil. However, a codicil can be a complex, ’messy’ document, so it’s now generally recommended to write a new Will instead to make sure everything is legally binding - especially as there are now free and discounted Will writing services available.

    Codicils can still be used to add gifts of specific items or fixed amounts, but not percentage shares. If you do want to amend your Will with a codicil, you might want to seek legal advice before writing one.

    Like the original Will, the codicil will have to be signed by you and 2 other independent witnesses. (They don’t have to be the same witnesses as in your original Will.)

    What is a discretionary trust?

    If you have been diagnosed with a brain tumour, or are caring for a person with a brain tumour, a discretionary trust allows you to ensure that, whatever your circumstances, a part of what you own will go towards the future benefit of your loved ones.

    Similar to writing a Will, a discretionary trust is a legal arrangement which allows you to distribute what you own for the benefit of your loved ones. However, there are some important differences between a Will and a discretionary trust.

    A discretionary trust allows you to set aside assets (trust fund) and are controlled by trustees, whom you appoint. In the event of your death, the trustees have the right to decide when and how the trust fund will be used to benefit your chosen beneficiaries. Once you have created a discretionary trust, it is highly unlikely that you would be able to cancel it or to revoke any assets placed in it. They are under the management of appointed trustees whose legal responsibility is to use the trust fund for the benefit of the beneficiaries.

    What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

    A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal arrangement which allows you to appoint a person (or persons) who, if needed, will make important decisions in the future on your behalf.

    An LPA can offer you the reassurance of knowing that if such a time should come, the person making those decisions will be someone you trust. It is a way of appointing a person (known as an attorney) to make decisions on your behalf in circumstances you specify.

    There are two types of LPA you can apply for:

    • The property and financial affairs LPA. This allows the attorney to make decisions on your behalf about your property and finances.
    • The health and welfare LPA. This allows your attorney to make decisions on your behalf about where you live and the treatment you receive.

    In order to apply for one or both types of LPA, you must be over 18 and have mental capacity to make your own decisions. On the application forms you can specify when you want the attorneys to be able to start taking decisions from.

    Do I need to pay gifts and inheritance tax?

    If your estate (everything you own) is valued over £325,000, a percentage may have to go to the government in the form of inheritance tax. You’ll also be charged inheritance tax if you give away more than this amount in the 7 years before your death.

    Any amount over £325,000 is taxable at a rate of 40% on gifts given in the 3 years before your death. Gifts given three to seven years before your death are taxed on a sliding scale, known as ’taper relief’.

    Generally, assets left to spouses or civil partners are exempt from inheritance tax, as are gifts to charity.

    You can give away £3,000 worth of gifts each tax year without them counting towards the value of your estate. This is known as ‘annual exemption’ and you can carry over an unused annual exemption to the next year, for one year.

    Get support

    If you need someone to talk to or advice on where to get help, our Support and Information team is available by phone, email or live-chat.

    If you have further questions, need to clarify any of the information on this page, or want to find out more about research and clinical trials, please contact our team:

    Support and Information Services

    0808 800 0004 (free from landlines and mobiles)

    Phone lines open Mon-Fri, 09:00-17:00

    You can also join our active online community - Join our online support groups.